Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding is preparing to upgrade its Sturgeon Bay shipyard equipment and facilities this year to assist with work on the Navy’s new guided-missile frigate.
The improvements will be within the current shipyard’s perimeter. On the south end of the yard near Georgia Street, the buildings formerly owned and operated by Palmer Johnson Yachts will become the hub for government work, including the LCS and FFG(X) programs. The manufacturer will expand or update some buildings to accommodate the larger fabrication efforts, a blast/prime/paint building and more room for support services. This week, the company is filing permits with the city to approve the height of some buildings and to start construction.
“This opportunity to continue and expand the work we are doing for the Navy with the frigate is exciting for many reasons,” said Todd Thayse, vice president and general manager for Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. “It gives us the ability to continue delivering naval vessels for the Navy and Coast Guard as we’ve done throughout our history. It also gives Door County direct and indirect economic benefits for a decade or longer as we upgrade our facilities, provide jobs and continue partnerships with vendors and suppliers across the Midwest.”
Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding is partnering with its sister shipyard, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, which was awarded the $795 million contract for the Navy’s first-in-class frigate last spring. If all goes well with the first ship, the Navy will have the opportunity to exercise its options on the original contract for nine additional ships and services valued at $5.5 billion. The detailed design work of the first vessel began in May and the start of fabrication is planned for 2021.
Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding will build large portions of the frigate hull and ship them by barge across Lake Michigan to Marinette — a process done with the Littoral Combat Ship construction. Fincantieri ACE Marine in Green Bay also constructs aluminum modules for LCSs and then sends them north to Marinette as part of a collaborative system-of-yards approach that leverages the talent and capabilities across the three Wisconsin facilities.
The manufacturer will continue its robust commercial construction, conversion and repair business at the Sturgeon Bay yard. Fincantieri recently finished work on the latest Washington Island Ferry and continues construction on a self-unloading barge, a Great Lakes freighter and an LNG bunker barge.
Thayse said the current workforce numbers will remain stable and the company will train and transition employees to assist with the frigate program.
“We look forward to continuing our commercial new construction projects and maintaining our seasonal winter fleet repair work that benefits the vessels currently on U.S. and international waterways,” he said.